Frozen pipes still a problem despite warmer temperatures

WAUKESHA (WITI) -- Frozen water pipes have cause major headaches for many residents and utility crews this winter, but the recent pleasant temperatures don't mean the problem is going away.

The warmer weather this past week was enough to melt some of the snow, but it could be causing some costly problems for the Waukesha Water Utility.

"Unfortunately that warm weather has been a nightmare for us," said Dan Duchniak with Waukesha Water Utility. "What happens is people see the warm weather, they figure well the problem's been resolved and they stop running their water and we're seen that."

In recent weeks the utility company has been asking residents to run their water frequently to help prevent frozen laterals -- the pipes that connect homes and businesses to water mains.

"The guys are joking 'yeah we can wear shorts to work now' and here we are thawing laterals still because they're freezing out in our system," said Duchniak. "Today along I think we've had three water main breaks, a lateral break and about ten frozen services."

The problem lies with how far down in the ground the frost is. According to Duchniak, that's about six or more feet deep -- and a few days of warmer temperatures haven't relieved that.

"It doesn't come out from the bottom up, so what happens is when you thaw out the first part of it, and then all of sudden you have this cold weather again, now what you're going to have is you're going to push that frost down even deeper," Duchniak explained.

Until all the frost is gone, pipes are still in danger of freezing. Duchniak has some advice for residents.

"Keep diligent on using the water so that we have water in our system and water for you to use," Duchniak said.

All Waukesha Water Utility customers are being asked to run their water to help prevent pipes from freezing.

Most are being asked to run cold water through one faucet, full tilt for five minutes, five to six times a day through the end of the month. About 2,000 other customers are supposed to run water constantly, at about half speed, until March 10th.

Those being asked to run water on a consistent basis should have received a phone message from the utility company.